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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

ARREST AND TRIAL                         171

day. It was his duty to send food to his father, and Su Tungpo had a
secret agreement with him that he was only to send vegetables and
meat5 but that if he heard of any bad news, he should send fish. During
a few days when Mai was forced to be away from the city to borrow
money, he entrusted the sending of food to one of his friends, but
forgot to tell him about the secret agreement. The friend sent in some
smoked fish and Su Tungpo had a scare. He thought that affairs had
taken a turn for the worse and perhaps he was doomed. He entered into
a plot with the warden. He wrote two poems of farewell to his brother,
couched in very sad language, saying that his family of ten mouths
would have to be fed by his brother, while his spirit lying on an
abandoned hillside would be listening to the moaning winds and drip-
ping rains. He expressed the hope that for generations and generations
they might be born brothers again. In the poems he also took care to
express gratitude to His Majesty for his previous kindness, and took all
the blame on himself. Tseyu, on reading the poems, was so overcome
that he fell weeping on his desk, and the warden took them away. It
was only upon Su Tungpo's release that the warden returned the poems,
saying that his brother just would not receive them. It is my belief that
Tseyu knew all along what the plot was and purposely returned the
poems to the warden. For, meanwhile, the two poems in the hands of
the warden served a very useful purpose. It was his duty to hand over
-any writings by the prisoners for examination by the prison authorities.
The story goes that Su Tungpo had felt sure these poems would reach
the Emperor himself. And so it fell out. The Emperor was greatly
moved by them, and that was one reason why later Su was let off
with a comparatively easy sentence in spite of the high pressure of
the censors.

We are indebted to the poet Lu Yu for the history of a manuscript
in Su Tungpo's own handwriting containing all the documents of the
trial. Today we have a book called The Case of Poetry at the Blacf^
Terrace, the Black Terrace being the name of the censorate prison. The
book contains the four impeachments, a complete record of the trial,
Su Tungpo's affidavit, the summing up of the testimony, and the
sentence. Lu Yu, who was industrious in keeping his diary and took
a special interest in all the manuscripts and inscriptions left by Su
Tungpo, which he saw about sixty or seventy years after Su's death, told
the following story atout this book. When the northern Sung dynasty
fell in 1126, the whole government staff fled south in the direction of
Hangchow, taking all the precious documents they could. While at
Yangchow, an official by the name of Chang Chuanchen got hold of
this manuscript and removed it from the government files. Later, when
this Chang died, a premier, also by the name of Chang, was asked